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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, May 17, 2010

Senator Robert Bennett May Run as an Independent

According to Ballot Access News:

U.S. Senator Robert Bennett of Utah has been running for re-election this year. Bennett failed to get [enough] support at last week’s Republican convention, and thus he cannot get on the June 22 primary ballot.

On May 16, CNN’s “State of the Union” public affairs TV show interviewed Bennett. Hostess Candy Crowley asked him, “When can we call you up and get an answer to the question of whether you’re going to run as an independent?” Bennett’s answer was, “As soon as I make up my mind, you will be the second to know.” Bennett was on in the second half of the show.

Utah requires an independent (for office other than President) to submit a petition by March 15. If Bennett decided to run for re-election as an independent, he would need to win a lawsuit against that deadline. Getting the signatures would be no problem if it weren’t for the deadline, because only 1,000 are needed. As noted in earlier posts about Bennett, five [federal court] circuits have invalidated deadlines for non-presidential independents that are as early as the deadline for candidates filing in a primary, and only one circuit has upheld such a deadline. Also the U. S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed a 3-judge district court against an April deadline in Arkansas, when the state's primary at the time was in May.

Utah also has a “sore loser” law (for office other than President), and Bennett would need to overcome that law also.[1] Although “sore loser” laws are constitutional for people who have lost a primary, there is no precedent on Utah’s type of "sore loser" law, which even applies to someone who has not run in a primary, but merely failed to get enough support at a preliminary party meeting.

Bennett is also free to be a declared write-in candidate in November. Elections officials would be horrified at the thought, however; write-in votes cost far more time and money to count than votes cast for someone on the ballot. Someone as popular as Bennett would, if he campaigned hard, undoubtedly receive tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of write-in votes.


[1] A "sore loser" law prohibits a candidate who has lost a party's nomination from then qualifying as an independent in the general election.


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